I’m starting to worry about Ryan Reynolds.
It’s natural for actors to go into a slump every few years and agree to work on projects that have no box office potential whatsoever. After all, no one can turn in consistently solid performances, yet Reynolds seems to have been in that slump for the majority of his career.
Now, I’m not concerned about how his paychecks are affected by this never-ending stream of box office bombs or his virtually non-existent chances at an Academy Award nomination. I’m concerned about his mental state, which allowed him to believe that signing on for the dead-on-arrival “R.I.P.D.” was an even remotely good idea.
Reynolds stars as Nick Walker, who has everything a police officer could ask for: a loving wife (Stephanie Szoztak), a great partner (Kevin Bacon), and a steady job with the Boston Police Department. But after some shady dealings, his partner betrays him, sending him to the big police station in the sky. Here, his soul is offered a choice—take his chances with heavenly judgment or spend 100 years working for the Rest In Peace Department, a celestial group of deceased law enforcement officials who prevent the dead from escaping judgment. In the R.I.P.D., Nick is partnered with Wild West sheriff Roy (Jeff Bridges), and together they bring the “Dead-Os” to eternal justice.
The concept actually sounds relatively decent, but whatever promise it might have had is quickly squandered by silly antics and even sillier characters. The “Dead-Os,” who have run away from eternal damnation, live on Earth disguised as humans and can only reveal their true, ugly forms if they inhale cumin (writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi obviously have something against Indian food).
The Dead-Os plot revenge on the heavenly authorities they’re hiding from (and, presumably chicken curry dishes) by opening a portal that will bring the dead back to Earth. Nick uncovers this conspiracy and tries to save his still-living wife from a terrible fate. Unfortunately, it’s hard to be as invested in all of this as Nick is, because it’s nearly impossible to care about any of the human characters and the closest thing to a hero here is, well, already dead.
While investigating on Earth, Nick and Roy are also disguised to keep the world from knowing about the existence of the R.I.P.D. Nick is an old Chinese man (James Hong) and Roy is a sexy female model (Marissa Miller) for some reason. To humans, they look like a pair of misfits, but in heaven, they look like a pair of misfits.
Hilarious, isn’t it?
Roy is a terrible mentor and shows minimal interest in anything other than himself, while Nick is constantly annoyed – and rightfully so – but his dislike of his partner gets in the way of preventing the apocalypse.
At best, the supernatural odd couple makes “R.I.P.D.” a lazy “Men In Black” wannabe. At worst, it may actually be the single most insufferable movie of the summer. And that’s saying something, since this summer has also seen “After Earth,” “The Lone Ranger,” and “White House Down.”
Reynolds may have had some flops in the past, but with its knock-off plot and off-putting characters, “R.I.P.D.” just might be a new low. While he is a decent actor and could shine in a halfway decent script, unless he begins picking better projects, his “slump” is in danger of becoming his “career.”
* ½ out of five